[34] Talking Italian

I thought I would update yesterday’s post into a longer one, as that was created while out after a few drinks, minutes before midnight.  So technically I have managed to continue the blog posts. That was all I achieved yesterday with regards to the continuation of my habit streaks, braining training and meditation are now firmly back at day 1.

Someone I know is considering doing nanowrimo, the national novel writing month which starts in November, which I have mentioned previously. I must admit when it was mentioned, I was envious as I have another idea for a book and would quite like to see where it goes. I have however one small matter of an unfinished one to deal with. I have decided I can’t start any new writing projects until I complete the existing one. So that means if I want to do it, I have just over two weeks to complete it. I have set out what I wanted to achieve with the blog, but it has taken time away from when I could have been completing “Unfriended” so I might start to reduce the frequency of the posts. The book had to be the number one priority.

I did say the other day I would share some of the “croftisms” that I had recently been reminded off. This particular one I think I must have blanked out on purpose.

Several years ago, I tried to start learning Italian, another one of my many projects. This involved a weekly night school course locally and some lunchtimes at work with a girl I worked with, who knew Italian. Needless to say, I wasn’t very good. I am not sure the Northern accent is made to speak fluent Italian. She was a great help however with my homework. It’s always good to have someone to ask questions and learn from.  Lunchtimes could be fun sat by the canal in Manchester trying to pick up some Italian. On one of these occasions, I was being taught some shall we say interesting phases that you wouldn’t learn in class. “Che cazzo fai?”  “porca puttana”  “stronso” and others similar. The first translates to “What the fuck are you doing”. I wrote them down as I tended to do with most of the words I was learning.  I completed my homework with assistance and handed it in at the class that evening. The teacher who was a middle-aged, dark-haired Italian woman pulled me to one side the following week and said “Martin, your homework is very good as usual” she then hesitated “But these words on the back” turning over the sheet “Are not very good, Italian’s do not like these phrases” Showing me the rude Italian works I had inadvertently written on the back of my homework.  I embarrassingly was very apologetic and tried to rationalise why I was writing rude works in the first place. She just smiled at me.

I thought after that incident that I wouldn’t make that mistake again and I didn’t. This time it was something else.

I managed to make it to the end of the course and the last night was an oral test. Everyone was going to speak for about five minutes in Italian, she would ask questions and there would be conversations. This was, fortunately, to be done in another room so no one had to listen to it. I’d had some issues with the trains back from Manchester and was running very late. It was a matter of quickly running into the house, getting out of my work clothes and shoes and getting dressed for the class. I grabbed my trainers from the cupboard in the hallway. This cupboard is one of those under the stairs dumping grounds that’s always a nightmare to find things. There is no light and I was relieved to be able to find my trainers as quickly as I had. I was at that point about 15 minutes late.  I jumped into the car and set off. It’s about 10 minutes to the class with traffic lights. I was just around the corner when I noticed something didn’t feel right with the clutch peddle.  Then I noticed on my left foot was a grey Karrimor style walking boot and on my right an Adidas blue suede trainer. How the hell had I managed to do that without noticing? I looked at the time and realised that it just wasn’t feasible to go back home. If it wasn’t the last week I would have skipped it entirely. I had no choice but to continue. Maybe no one would notice. I parked up and started walking, they were entirely different heights. I entered red-faced before I had even started “Buonasera Martin” The teacher said as I entered. I slunk down at the table I sat at with several other people. Thinking I could get away with it I then realised that everyone would notice when we went for our break. There was nothing I could do and then preceded to try and explain why I had two completely different shoes on a bewildered table full of people.



[33] Friday the 13th

Is more or less irrelevant. I’m not superstitious, I don’t walk under ladders as that’s a stupid thing to do anyway. I do recall working with someone who was very superstitious, he wouldnt go to events if he got ticket no 13. Which if I’m honest is highly unlikely and extremly unlucky. Weird as I had thought today’s post was going to be just ‘Today has been rather dull’ the end ,and nothing more but I when given the opportunity to write it starts to flow. I’m again writing on the app. Yesterday I inadvertently missed off the image and had to repost.

I’m trying to recall whats happened today, other that work and I’m struggling, certainly nothing of note anyway.

Hey it’s Saturday the 14th tomorrow surely something must happen. There is a small matter of a game of football at lunchtime. Liverpool v Man united. I feel little will be achieved this weekend but we’ll see.

[32] An extra hour

Turns out the nice train with the tables was a one off. Northern rail again twart my cunning plans. I seem to be more productive in the mornings than the evenings and therefore I am going to try a later train. It might be only an hour more in the morning, meaning staying an hour later but if it moves me towards my goals it’s definetly worth the sacrifice. As it’s Friday tomorrow I’ll start Monday. Who wants to still be in the office later than needed on a Friday.

Update: This is the first blog written entirely on my phone on the wordpress app.

[31] The little things

It’s amazing how the little things impact us. I got up this morning not wanting to get out of bed, the alarm had gone just after 6AM to allow me to get the 6.55AM train. I used to never use an alarm clock, when did that change I wonder? I press snooze and 10 minutes later I am still there. I mustn’t have pressed it properly. I force myself to get up and get showered.  I wander into the kitchen to try and a make a brew. My son is asleep on the Kitchen floor. This probably needs an explanation, he’s on a mattress. His room is being painted, it was his decision to sleep here, but only after he decided to move his computer to the kitchen table.  I managed to make a brew without waking him.

Kitchen PC

He’s asleep in the space behind the PC on a mattress.

I was conscious of the time, as I would have to leave soon. I hadn’t done my stretches.I left not long later, I had done the minimal of stretching. I had my headphones in my pocket, should I carry on with my podcast, should I read my audiobook? Once at the train should I write, it’s always challenging on the very cramped seats with my Microsoft surface (other laptops are available) or should I read.  I had put the book I am currently reading Fool Moon in my bag this morning. As I walked its very windy, winter is coming, how can you ever say that statement and not think of anything other than a game of thrones I ponder. It’s eerie, my walk takes me down a dimly lit passage with a few street lamps, it feels very Harry Potter. I think I should try and get all the popular culture references in, maybe today’s blog will reach more people because of it.  I like the way the street lamps illuminate the surrounding trees and bushes, making the dark patches even more inky black. I wonder, would I walk down this way if the light were out. I once thought I saw a shadowy figure behind one of the trees across the street, I could have sworn someone was there but when I checked there was no one. It always makes me ponder what I did see that day.

Weirdly the passage gives me a smile and brightens my day. I enjoyed the walk this morning, albeit short as it was it lifted my spirits.

I await the train, I haven’t got my headphone out or made any decisions. The train pulls in, it’s not the usual one. It has bright new carriages, new seats and saving the best to last seating with tables. Oh my, my heart skips, my decision is made for me. I smile.  I will write.

I silently hope this is to be regular train as I sit here finishing today’s blog and moving onto editing my book.

[30] Writing Break

Mini writing trip to a very rural cottage in the lakes.

Tomorrow, I will have written this blog for a full month. I never envisaged that I would be still going at this point.

I’ve just booked a writing break/family get together in the lakes at the end of the month. How much writing I will mange we’ll see. This was booked through Airbnb, today the owner emailed me the most comprehensive Information package and direction sheet I have seen. It was a work of art, it is thirty pages long. It even introduces the neighbours (Bob & Margaret), it includes walks with maps, walks for a dry day and walks for wet days, nothing is left out.The direction sheet had Google Streetview photos, which seeing (the photo above) I have a feeling it’s going to be quite rural. The instructions contained information for power outages and there’s a supply of bottled water in a shed. There’s a page on just the instructions to maximise the heat from the open fire. There are lots of things I am looking forward to.  There is a room with a projector and a Wii, unbeknown to my son I will be taking a game I found while clearing out all the clutter in my office.  Tony Hawks down Jam Hill, we played this so much when he was younger and I look forward to beating him yet again. I think this break will be a story in itself.

On another note, I have managed to get more information around some of the stupid things that I have done in the past, I really can’t think how I managed to blank these out of my mind. So will be sharing some of these over the coming days.



[29] The room where time stops

I’ve always wanted a room in which time doesn’t move. It just freezes the very moment you enter to the moment you leave. I could take anything to this room even a laptop with the internet. Obviously, this doesn’t exist but it would be amazing and oh things you could do. You could learn everything you ever dreamed of. I recall this as I briefly crammed in some stretching this morning and looked around the living room. I see lots of unfinished things, stuff that shouts to me “Oi Martin what about me, when you going to sort me out. There’s a Xbox voucher for 3 months access, that’s been sat there for months, there’s a mindful gift I got for my birthday off my beautiful daughter in July than needs a daily commitment which I’ve given about three continuous days
There’s a novel writing book, the drawing pins box from yesterday, a lean in 15 book, which has never had a recipe made from it. The Guardian paper that I bought yesterday as part of the 99 tasks and for the free virtual reality headset, the baskets in the living room are another thing entirely. They are crammed with hidden things out of sight but I know they are watching. Ok if I only had my special room that I could drag all these things into them and come out seconds later with every open loop closed and that’s just the living room. Every room I enter the voices call to me. “Pick me Martin pick me” but all the voices are the same level there isn’t one that shouts with authority ” I am the one to do next, you know that” occasionally the voices annoy I find a window to do some ‘organisation’. I choose at random what gets my attention, I choose over whelming tasks I open the basket and piles things out. There is no time room to take them to. They get spread out across the floor, these items of curiosity. I get distracted. I make vague inroads and time is sucked from me. The place is a mess. I collate all my piles of wonders together, they go back in the basket the lids shuts better than it before ever so slightly. That’s a success right?, I con myself .
Even now as I write this on the train, I’d decided I wouldn’t write the book this morning but I would read a novel. I don’t read enough, I berate myself , but I am now doing something else instead.

I’m silently screaming in my head. I wonder if I didn’t take on a single new thing how long it would take to put all the curiosities and things I started, to bed. Life doesn’t work like that does it. Can you press the pause button and crack on with other things? and if you can which one do you do when there is so many. As I metophocially drag the list of unfinished things to the room where time stops.

[28] 85 Days till the end of the year

Today could well be the shortest post I have written so far. With regards to writing, today hasn’t been that inspiring. I am just reviewing the 99 things I said I would achieve by the end of the year. So I then decide I’ll post the 99 things. I keep the list in Google Keep as checklists hence the ticked off items ( at the bottom). I have managed so far 9, so 90 still to do and 85 days to achieve them. I will pick out 10 for the next week.

Going through the list  I noted some duplication so these have been changed to be added (TBD) at a point in the not too distant future

99 things in 99 days

  • 1 Get below 90 kg ( Currently at 91.0 but did make it to 90.4)
  • 3 Go somewhere never been before
  • 4 Read a Joe Abercrombie book
  • 5 finish the book
  • 6 Enter a story into a competition
  • 7 Walk 20k steps in Manchester
  • 8 Eat at work for a full week
  • 9 Drink 3 bottles of water ( 1lt bottles ) in a day
  • 10 Do 1 task a day for 1 week
  • 12 TBD
  • 13 keep spending diary for 1 week
  • 14 purchase £250 shares
  • 15 purchase £250 shares
  • 16 Try selling and buying bitcoins ( Already sold hoping for a price drop it hasn’t happened so far! oops)
  • 17 Cook dinner party
  • 18 Walk stairs at work for a day
  • 19 Brain training for 21 days
  • 20 Listen to 3 audiobooks
  • 21 Read a book had on my bookshelf for ages
  • 22 Eat salt and pepper chicken
  • 23 Do something out of comfort some
  • 24 Write a poem and enter in contest
  • 25 Write 1000 word story
  • 26 Walk down alphabetical Street Manchester – so A-Z
  • 27 Photo on Instagram for 5 days
  • 28 Swap a book on book swap
  • 29 Chat to some writing bloggers
  • 30 Eat Chinese food
  • 31 Catch leaves in a wood
  • 32 Draft idea for cover
  • 33 Go to the seaside
  • 34 Watch star wars Last Jedi
  • 35 Go cinema with Hannah
  • 36 Watch football in the pub
  • 37 Buy something for someone
  • 39 Watch something on top 10 series on NetFlicks
  • 40 Tweet 5 things in a day
  • 41 Act of kindness for homeless person
  • 42. Do something for Hannah (Daugther, I know she is trying to read this so if you do get to this bit don’t  worry I’ll make sure it’s cheap :). Text me when to actually read this with the word spatula) 
  • 43 Do something for Leo (son)
  • 44 Do something for Julie (wife)
  • 45 Do something for Helen (sister)
  • 46 Do something for Mum (er Mother)
  • 47 Withheld as someone might see this and spoil it
  • 48 Listen to a new band
  • 49 Listen to a new podcast
  • 50 Ask XXXX about her published book, name remove to protect the innocent 
  • 51 Watch a SQL bits video
  • 52 Buy a chocolate bar not eaten in years
  • 53 Do something seen on Lancashire tourist info
  • 54 Eat somewhere never eaten before
  • 55 Order something off internet, not from Amazon
  • 56 Buy a new cheese
  • 57 Smile at someone while walking in the streets of Manchester, taking my life into my own hands
  • 58 Post something of random to someone as a gift
  • 59 Jog
  • 60 Dance
  • 61 Try and speak to someone you haven’t for a while
  • 62 Eat a flavour of crisps never tried
  • 63 Bake something
  • 64 TDB
  • 65 Buy something for Hannah birthday
  • 66 Buy something for Leo birthday
  • 68 Take a photo in Manchester of something unique
  • 69 Catch a falling leaf
  • 71 Play cards
  • 74 Read a novella
  • 75 Walk from Buckshaw train station 
  • 76 Sit in a booth in Costa
  • 78 Buy a different coffee
  • 79 List all books owned in good reads
  • 80 Visit martincroft sign ( I have a road named after me!)
  • 82 Buy a magazine not bought previously 
  • 83 Enter competition in a magazine
  • 84 Buy a new shirt
  • 85 Buy new trainers
  • 87 Look into company car
  • 88 Finish my dad wrote a porno
  • 89 Find another podcast I like
  • 90 List all things started and not completed
  • 91 Decide on user group session and create it
  • 92 Sign up for Pluralsite for a month
  • 93 Bake bread in bread maker
  • 94 Eat somewhere new
  • 95 Read a book recommended
  • 96 Blog 50 times
  • 97 TBD
  • 98 TBD
  • 99 TBD
  • 2 Gym streak of 5 days
  • 11 Meditate for twenty-one days
  • 67 Drink something different (Tried Aperol Spritzer not that nice)
  • 70 Swim one work morning
  • 72 inbox zero all email accounts
  • 73 buy the guardian
  • 77 sit somewhere different on train
  • 81 go to 5 guys
  • 86 Finish python course

[27] The harshness of winter colds

Yesterday’s post was not so much about writing my book but conveying a true story of something that happened to me. I don’t think this is a bad thing, as it improves my storytelling skills and hopefully amuses. I recall these idiot moments fondly and they make me smile as I recall them. I look forward to coming back to these posts in the future and rereading. A lot of things in my book ‘unfriended’ were influenced by experiences, that said I must add that I’ve never joined the EDL, seen racist toilets or come out as gay just for a day, it’s the other things, honest.

I was going to recall the ‘2nd toilet’ story but then I remembered ‘the cough sweet’ incident as I’m currently sat on a train so I thought I would share that one first.

It was a cold winter morning, I was under the weather and commuting to Manchester where I worked. My throat was killing me, it was swollen and swallowing was difficult. It felt horrible. I felt rotten. I looked in the cupboard and noticed a box of throat lozenges. I smiled and popped them in my pocket. They made a rattling sound and I assumed they had all been broken up. I was sure they would still help as I felt I’d swallowed razor blades as my throat was so sore. I walked to the train. It was cold as I got on the train and I tried to keep warm as best I could. I pulled my coat tighter about me. I rubbed my sore throat and then remembered the throat lozenges and smiled.

I grabbed them out of my pocket and flipped open the little cardboard box lid and in one fluid motion dropped the lozenges straight onto my tongue. The instant they were in my mouth I realised something didn’t feel quite right. The box was still open in my hand. I looked down. I was staring at a box of drawing pins. I, fortunately, didn’t start to chew as I’d realised immediately. I spat them out into my hand. I cupped my hand and pushed them back into the box. I wonder to this day if anyone had looked up to see a man spitting out drawing pins on the train and for them to wonder if he had learning difficulties or he was just a bellend.

I still have the box of drawing pins in my office and to this day every time I see them it brings a smile to my face. The picture above is the actual box.

[26] Croftism’s – The toilet part uno

Now the shackles have been thrown off, nay smashed and cast aside. The word count is an irrelevance that blights me no longer. I was sat pondering what I should write about today and then I recalled Croftisms. I had previously achieved a reputation for doing some rather stupid but nevertheless amusing things that someone coined the phrase Croftisms. I’m not sure I can recall all of them but will endeavour to try. An ex-colleague once catalogued them and I’ll get around to asking her if she can recall any that I’ve forgotten. I think a good place to start though is ‘The first toilet incident’.

This one goes back to my time at university. I’d worked for 7 years before I gave it up and took decided on a change of career, by going to University. I was classed as a mature student during my university years, people who knew me would very much contradict that I would imagine. I joined one of the many societies at the University of Central Lancashire where I attended from 1994 to 1997, however, I digress from the main story. This particular one was the scientific expedition society which for its grand title was mainly a walking and drinking club. There would be trips away to various places each weekend. This particular weekend I found myself with probably fifteen other people in Keswick in the Lake District. If you have never been you have missed an amazing place. We’d done the usual walk, I don’t recall where and we were down by the lake in Keswick Bassenthwaite lake to be precise. As an aside, Bassenthwaite is the only true lake in the Lake District all the others are meres or waters. See, learning things as well here.We were a mixed bunch of students, there was usually several foreign students, as they got to see lots of the country this way. The first incident, oh yes when I make a tit of myself I do it on a large scale. For those of you who haven’t been, there’s a path that follows around the part of the lake nearest Keswick. The paths higher up than the lake and the edge of it made the perfect rest for my camera to take a picture of the gang. Who where stood clustered by the lake. I’d balanced it so to get in the group crowded around each other. This wasn’t the time of mobile phones this was a proper camera era. Wind up films and dodgy timers. I’d got it in position and set the timer. I jumped nimbly off the path down some three or so feet and ran over to the group as quickly as I could muster. Spinning around and with a sweat on. I beamed at the camera with my biggest smile and waited. Nothing happened. I waited some more and then starting to get annoyed, I thought I could influence things by shouting loudly at the camera ” Come on you bastard” just as an old couple walked past behind the camera. Swiveling around to see this mature student going bright red in the face. I stumbled “I didn’t mean you” which was no explanation I realised.  I was still going redder as they increased their pace, away from me.

I got ribbed by the group as people broke out of the photo stance. One of my friends Ian went off to the toilet, needing it myself I followed momentarily making sure I wouldn’t walk past the old couple from minutes before. I made it to the toilets and used the urinal. My friend Ian wasn’t to be seen as I washed my hands and as I started to leave I clocked the only cubicle with the door shut and then a malicious thought entered my head. I walked over to the cubicle and preceded to bang over and over on the door shouting as there was no one else in the toilet “Come on you bastard” to my merriment. I left chuckling to myself tears streaming down my face. I looked up to see walking up the path towards the toilets, Ian. He had gone a different way and he hadn’t been to the toilets yet. Needless to say, I didn’t hang about to see who had been in the cubicle, all I know was it wasn’t Ian.

(Words lots and lots more than 250)


The photo is of me at Bassenthwaite Lake when I visited in 2015 on a camping trip.

[25] A New Dawn

A momentous day, I have managed to blog for 25 days in a row.  So to recap

Writing blog – 25 days

Meditate – 25 days

Brain Training – 7 Days ( I don’t recall missing one but it is saying I have done only 7 in a row)

The writing, editing of the book hasn’t been as consistent as I would like. A better approach is needed, with all the others items they are specific, the writing and corrections aren’t. I started with an hour a day and realised we tend to live busy lives, but that’s just an excuse.  I wrote in the morning on the train, I wrote at lunchtime but it certainly wasn’t a habit, it tailed off.  That, I need to redress. I am sitting here thinking the best approach. Writing for an hour, an exact hour is difficult. I get on the train, I might have been listening to a podcast or audiobook while walking. I might have started browsing the internet, looking at Twitter or my emails and then start writing. The journey is around forty-five minutes how much of this do I write for?  Even the days I write at lunch, I walk to the Library and back and write in between. The idea hits me while I type this, something I tell my daughter to use and I ignore myself, time boxing. The Pomodoro technique, small chunks of time where I do nothing but write. I can make this into a habit. I will endeavour to write in 15-minute segments.

(Words 250)

I wanted to continue. I had to cut so many words to fit it all into 250. I am excited about tomorrow. To throw away the shackles of oppression with limited words. To be able to compete with myself,  to see how many fifteen minute segments I can accomplish.

(Words 300) 🙂